Value Family Transportation
by Keith Burton
First off, I think minivans are getting a bad rap. Somehow minivans have gotten the reputation of being "soccer mom" transportation modules. That is, among road-going vehicles, a minivan is something to avoid. This is too bad as actually, SUVs are the "soccer mom" vehicles of choice these days.
Minivans though are far superior in the critical area of interior space than any SUV. And usually, space inside is a feature more associated with luxury. All of this to talk about the 2007 Kia Sedona minivan we recently tested here at our Mississippi Coast headquarters.
In case you haven't looked closely at a new minivan, they are no longer "mini" at all. Indeed, these are now among the roomiest vehicles ever produced for consumer use. They really need a new name. A good case in point is the Sedona. This is a large vehicle with a spacious, comfortable interior that far surpasses the room in almost all SUVs.
The Sedona brings to the party a lengthy list of standard equipment that also adds to its value. Our tester was equipped with captain chairs in the first two rows, power windows, a slick 5-speed manumatic transmission, DVD player and a fine-sounding CD AM-FM radio. And best of all, it was priced at under $24,000.
The Sedona is available in two well equipped models. The EX and LX. Ours was the the EX version and it didn't have leather seats or power-operated doors. Those features are in the LX model, which is priced just north of $26,000, which is still a bargain for a large V6-powered vehicle.
But we found the EX model just about right, especially for families looking for a large, roomy vehicle that can carry a family with ease, plus a lot of luggage. The non-powered sliding side doors were remarkably light to the touch to open and close. Kia's engineers did their homework here. Actually, the electric power doors are slow to open and close and we really didn't see the need since the regular sliding doors worked so well.
We also found that the Kia Sedona is fun to drive and a terrific companion on the Interstate. Why is that? Well, because unlike the large and sluggish SUVs and wagons of yore, the Sedona has some real power under the hood.
The standard engine is a 3.8-liter V6 with 244 horsepower and 256 ft.lb. of torque. This power is transmitted to the front wheels through an advanced 5-speed automatic transmission complete with a manumatic gear selector. You also get traction control as standard and you will need it. Stepping hard on the Sedona's gas pedal will illicit squeals of delight from the front wheels every time. There is a downside though. The Sedona has quite a bit of what is called "torque steer" if you are hard on gas, even with traction control engaged. But where the power really is felt is on the highway. There is effortless speed for passing and cruising on the Interstate.
Steering on the Sedona is also pleasant. It has a nice feel and the Sedona can be confidently driven even after only a few minutes of time behind the wheel. It is also available with adjustable foot pedals, which will help drivers of short stature get comfortable in front of the steering wheel.
Inside the roomy cabin there is plenty of space to move from the front seats to the rear, even to the third row seats way in back. The third row seats are also plenty roomy for full sized adults. Legroom throughout the Sedona is terrific. One thing also that a minivan has going for it is ease of entry. Unlike SUVs, getting into the Sedona is not a climb of Mount Everest. You can actually get into this vehicle without the need of ladders or handles.
The Sedona is of South Korean manufacture and that may put off some potential buyers. But it shouldn't. Kia has made huge strides in engineering and manufacturing and it shows in all of the latest products. We found fit and finish above average and some really good thinking throughout this affordable big vehicle.
Overall, the Kia Sedona has a lot to offer. Terrific room, and abundant standard features. Plus, surprising power that made it actually fun to drive. We also think the Sedona's exterior styling is well done with a an edgy but flowing design that actually made this large vehicle attractive. Now, about this soccer mom thing. Just forget about it.